Ultimate Guide to Leap Castle's Haunted Past

A Brave Explorer’s Guide to Leap Castle’s Haunted Past

If you’re a fan of the Ghost Adventures from the Travel Channel, you might have caught one of the Halloween Specials they did on the Leap Castle. (It’s Season 9 Episode 4 for those you didn’t catch it.) 

The ghost adventurers team went into the castle after dark and explored all the rumored haunted spots. It was amazingly creepy. After the episode, I messaged friends right away to plan a trip of our own. 

This haunted castle in Ireland has a rich history etched in stone, and the spirits, well, they leave an impression too. So, grab your flashlights and join us on a spine tingling exploration of Leap Castle and the other worldly residents that call it home. 

History and Significance of Leap Castle 

History and Significance of Leap Castle

Leap Castle is often acclaimed as the world’s most haunted castle and is located in Offaly, Ireland which served as a fortress, a home, and a tomb across its rich history. 

It’s believed to have been built in the early 1500s under the rule of the O’Carroll clan, while others trace its origins to a site once used by Druids for initiation ceremonies. 

Originally named Leim Ui Bhanain, meaning Leap of the O’Bannons. The name comes from the legendary tale of two O’Bannon brothers vying for the chieftainship. The dispute was settled in a macabre display of strength and bravery. 

Both men were to leap off the rocky outcrop where the castle would later stand. The survivor would claim the title. The very beginnings of the castle were already steeped in death and blood. 

Leap Castle became a strategic stronghold for the O'Carroll clan
Image Source: Leap Castle Official Website

After that, Leap Castle became a strategic stronghold for the O’Carroll clan, guarding the access to the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The O’Carrolls employed killing and violence by killing enemies and sometimes each other for power and victories. 

The castle, a symbol of their power and the site of some of these gruesome murders, remained in their hands until 1642 when English soldier John Darby seized it during the Cromwellian era.

The Darbys stayed there until 1922 when it was burnt into an empty husk. Only in 1947 was it repurchased. Across the years, it has undergone renovations to make it the castle we know (and fear) today.  

Address: R421, Leap, Roscrea, Co. Offaly, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 86 869 0547


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  • Open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm

What to Do at Leap Castle 

Explore the Castle Grounds

Explore the Castle Grounds

The main entrance on the East side, leads directly into the Great Hall. The Eastern wall guides you to a terrace with views of the area and two small hidden chambers. As you venture further, the North and South walls open the way to the gothic wings.

Climbing the spiral staircase leads to the Upper Hall, where you’ll see the vaulted roof and huge Gothic windows. The Minstrel’s Gallery, a loft-style space above the Upper Hall, likely part of the original sleeping quarters in the main tower. 

The Bloody Chapel is where most of the supernatural encounters occur. This room offers access to the bartizan on the North-Western wall. The Oubliette is also located here which was intended to be used as a vault for valuables.

The O’Carrolls instead used it as a death chamber for prisoners. The name translates to to forget as prisoners were left there to die. 3 cartloads of skeletons were found and removed by the Darbys when they took over. 

Meet Its Supernatural Residents

Meet Its Supernatural Residents

Most people visit the Leap Castle for the residents that inhabit this abandoned building with The Elemental being the most well-known one.

Some believe it’s a guardian set by ancient Druids, while others attribute it to the dark magic performed by Mildred Darby. Local whispers gossip that it’s the ghost of an O’Carroll who died of leprosy.

The most believed theory is that the spirit was awakened by the discovery of the skeletons in the Oubliette. It’s described to have a bad smell, sores all over its gray face, and thick black hair covering its body. It has no nose and black holes for eyes. 

Most people visit the Leap Castle for the residents that inhabit this abandoned building with The Elemental being the most well-known one
Image Source: Leap Castle Official Website

Emily and Charlotte are other mainstays in the castle. Emily is said to have died after falling from castle’s battlements, Most see the girl’s ghost plummet from the roof. Charlotte’s right leg is bent backwards as she drags it behind her. 

Less creepy apparitions include an old man and woman who sit by the fire in the main hall. But the violent past of the castle is reflected with the Murdered Woman’s. With tattered clothes and a red cloth covering her face, she screams twice before vanishing.  

The Red Lady  roams the castle carrying a dagger. Believed to have been raped and killed by the O’Carrolls, this is one of the most vengeful spirits. Her child was taken and killed, which pushed her to end her life with the same blade. 

How to Get There

Since the Leap Castle is located in an area without proper roads, the only way to get there is to drive in your own car. The location is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Galway, Dublin, and Cork.

From Galway:

R336 will take you to Bothar na dTreabh (N6). Follow along until you reach the M6 and then the R355 in Galway. Exit 15 will take you to L4305 which will lead you to Emmet Square (N52) with the castle on your left hand side.

From Dublin: 

Make your way to R11 and exit at N7 to M7 at Kildare. Follow the M7 until you reach R435 in Laos. Keep your eye out for exit 21 which will lead you to R445 and then to R421 in Offaly. Leap Castle will be on your right. 

From Cork:

Take the N8 which will lead you to M8 and then to N62 in Tipperary. Take Exit 6 and follow the road to R421, until you see the castle on the right side of the road. 

The Best Time to Go 

We suggest you visit Leap Castle during May which offers the most sunny days in the year. The clear weather will allow you to admire the exterior architecture of the castle without worrying about the rain. 

Since the castle is located on private property, the date and time of your visit will depend on what you and the owner agree on, so we suggest trying to get in contact well in advance. 

Tips for a Hauntingly Good Visit to Leap Castle

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting snagged in some of the less refined areas of the castle. 
  • Bring torches with you because there is little to no light inside the castle. 
  • Put on bug spray especially during the wet season. There are loads of mosquitoes inside and in the surrounding areas. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the stories before going so you have a list of everything you want to check out or a list of spirits you want to hunt. 
  • Take photos of the inside without flashes and see what creepy pictures you can capture. 
  • Explore the other attractions nearby, like the Charleville Castle and the Birr Castle. 

Places to Eat Nearby

Supermac’s & Papa John’s Roscrea

Address: Main St, Townparks, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, E53 KH56, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 505 22746


Hours: Open everyday from 12 pm to 10 pm 

When you’ve had your fill of ancient mysteries at Leap Castle, we suggest you head over to Supermac’s & Papa John’s in Roscrea for a comforting dose of American-style fast food. In business since 1978 in Galway, they now have 118 locations in Ireland. 

Their selection of juicy beef and chicken burgers, crispy chicken filets,  flaky fish and chips, and hearty sandwiches are local favorites. 

The familiar flavors executed perfectly brings you back to reality after your supernatural adventure. Make sure you try their taco fries with taco sauce and minced meat. 

Brendans bar

Address: Castle St, Townparks, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 86 233 4123



  • Open from Monday to Thursday from 1 pm to 11:30 pm 
  • Open from Friday to Saturday from 11 am to 12:30 am 
  • Open on Sunday from 12:30 pm to 11 pm 

Need a cozy spot to talk about and process your Leap Castle tales with friends? Brendans Bar, a charming pub shed that came to life in 2020, is the place to be.

The rustic look and warm ambience, as well as the dim lighting makes for a great place to prolong your creepy adventure. The friendly faces of the staff and a perfect pint are perfect for those who need a bit more comfort after the supernatural adventure. 

They serve up great pub grub to fill you up after a tiring day at the castle. Their breaded mushrooms are a great appetizer and goes well with our favorite main, the roast stuffed turkey. 

Mc’s Bar The Stand Roscrea

Address: Rosemount, Demesne, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 87 097 1132



  • Open from Monday to Thursday from 5 pm to 11:30 pm 
  • Open on Friday from 4 pm t0 11:30 pm 
  • Open on Saturday from 12 pm to 11:30 pm 
  • Open on Sunday from 12 pm to 11 pm

After exploring the Leap Castle, you should find your way to Mc’s Bar at The Stand in Roscrea. This pub is a hub of local stories and since it’s so close to the location of the castle, most of the locals there will have ghost stories to enhance your experience. 

The laid-back atmosphere matches the straightforward no frills food that they serve. The chicken tenders are the perfect snack to enjoy along with one of their many local beers on tap. Not to mention the live music that they always have on Saturday nights. 

Tasty Spice Roscrea

Address: Rosemary St, Townparks, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 505 23993


Hours: Open everyday from 4 pm to 12 am 

If you’ve worked up an appetite deciphering the mysteries of Leap Castle and running from the spirits that call it home, Tasty Spice in Roscrea is just a few minutes away. 

This eatery has been serving great pizza to visitors with a wide array of flavors. They serve classic takes on pepperoni and four cheese pizzas, but they also have more inventive and adventurous flavors that you can try. 

Plus, the pizzas are all at affordable prices with big servings which are perfect for big groups of friends or family. 

The Thatch Crinkill

Address: Military Rd, Crinkill, Birr, Co. Offaly, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 57 912 0682



  • Open on Monday from 9 am to 11:30 pm 
  • Closed on Tuesday
  • Open from Wednesday to Thursday from 4 pm to 12 am 
  • Open on Friday from 4 pm to 12:30 am 
  • Open on Saturday from 12:30 pm to 1 am 
  • Open on Sunday from 12:30 pm to 11 pm 

You can wrap up your Leap Castle expedition with a visit to The Thatch in Crinkill, a bar and restaurant that has a 200 year old history. This is one of the oldest pubs in the area of South Offaly. 

The attached restaurant which was added in serves modern Irish Cuisine using local and seasonal produce.

We suggest getting the Thatch Famous Curry with Naan bread if you want a cult classic. For more adventurous eaters, the Chinese duck with orange and sage stuffing is a great item on the menu to take a chance on. 

Places to Stay Nearby 

Roundwood House 

Address: Roundwood House, Roundwood, Mountrath, Co. Laois, R32 TK79, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 879 01 6111

Pricing: $$$

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Nestled amid the lush Irish countryside, Roundwood House is located in native woodlands that spans across 18 acres of land. It’s a great option to stay in after a thrilling adventure of exploring the nooks and crannies of Leap Castle. 

This BnB has 6 bedrooms in the main house and 4 in the attached Yellow House for a truly mellow and relaxing stay. There are also 2 stand alone and self-catering cottages if you want more privacy.  

There’s even a mini library on the grounds, as well as some hens and ducks running about. 

County Arms

Address: Railway Rd, Townparks, Birr, Co. Offaly, R42 Y568, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 57 912 0791

Pricing: $$$

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A welcoming retreat is what the County Arms, a family-run hotel in Birr brings to you. This classic Georgian house hotel is located in a historic heritage town, but its rich history does not mean old school amenities. 

There are 70 luxury rooms, an onsite spa and beauty bar with a wide array of treatments available. The cozy rooms with classic decor are great places to recuperate after a day of thrills at the Leap Castle nearby. 

You can explore the hotel’s expansive gardens or take a dip in the pool to wind down at the end of the day. 

Dooly’s Hotel

Address: Emmet Square, Townparks, Birr, Co. Offaly, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 57 912 0032

Pricing: $$$

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Dooly’s Hotel provides a comfortable base for your Leap Castle adventure. The 17 rooms in this boutique hotel feature a blend of contemporary design and warm hues. .

The Emmet Restaurant which is located at the hotel grounds has been serving great food since the start. If you need a night capper to complete your day, The Coachouse Bar serves up traditional cocktails and local beers as well. 

We suggest you drop by Melba’s Club just a few minutes away if you feel like you still have energy left to burn at the end of the night. 

Kinnitty Castle Hotel

Address: Castle Hotel, Castletown And Glinsk, Kinnitty, Co. Offaly, R42 CY50, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 57 913 7318

Pricing: $$$

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For a truly enchanting stay, consider Kinnitty Castle Hotel as your choice. This Gothic revival castle, dating back to the 13th century, exudes medieval charm that goes well with the architecture at the Leap Castle not too far away. 

The hotel is located over 650 acres of land with 60 of them dedicated to grass lawns for unwinding. Each room is a testament to the castle’s rich history, with unique character and period-style furnishings. 

The 37 guest rooms all have high ceilings with cast iron roll top baths to stay true to the theme. 

Templemore Arms Hotel

Address: 43-65 Main St, Co, Tipperary, E34 WN51, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 50 431 423

Pricing: $$

Book Now

Templemore Arms Hotel provides a cozy haven for those visiting Leap Castle. The rooms, decked out with modern amenities, offer a comfortable retreat. This family owned hotel has 3 stars and also provides easy access to Dublin. 

The 15 bathrooms all have private bathrooms and are all equipped with everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. For a high quality stay, the Templemore Arms Hotel provides an affordable price tag for its visitors. 

They serve food and drinks all day at The Karrigeen Lounge and at the Greenwood Restaurant.